By Mila Besich-Lira
Statement from Congressman Jeff Flake regarding Resolution Copper Project Development Cutback
“As if Congress needed any more urgency to pass this land exchange legislation, hopefully these 400 current jobs and thousands of potential jobs lost will send that message.”
Statement from Senator-elect Barbara McGuire regarding Resolution Copper Project Development Cutback
(Legislative District 8, Kearny, AZ) – The November 30 announcement of lay offs at Resolution Copper at Superior gives me great concern. Congressional gridlock and partisan games the past 2 years created another unfavorable consequence.
The world is in need of the copper Resolution can produce and local communities of district 8 and the state are in need of the economic stimulus Resolution Copper will provide.
As LD23 State Representative from 2007 – 2011, I advocated for Resolution Copper based on jobs and the attending economic development it brings.
I have recently been elected to the State Senate in the new LD 8 previously LD 23 where Resolution Copper is located.
I will continue to encourage the Arizona federal delegation to pursue progress on legislation and to support the measures necessary to expeditiously produce a positive solution, which will bring Resolution Copper on line sooner than later.
Statement by Rita M. Wentzel Superior Interim Town Manager/Clerk
The Town of Superior Mayor, Council and Staff met with officials from Resolution Copper Mining this morning regarding their decisions to reduce funding and staff. First and foremost, our hearts go out to those families who will be directly affected by the staffing cutbacks. We respect and appreciate their hard work and efforts toward a growing career for themselves and their families. Superior is a community that comes together and supports one another when times are difficult. As with mining cut-backs in the past, we will all need to continue to work together toward a more positive future. While these circumstances are beyond our control, the Town is committed to work with all of our business partners for the betterment of our economic base.
Statement from Congresswoman-elect Ann Kirkpatrick on today’s announcement from Resolution Copper that it will cut jobs and significantly scale back its efforts with the Superior Mine:
“Today’s announcement from Resolution Copper will have a ripple effect across Arizona’s Copper Corridor. I’ve worked hard on past efforts to bring jobs to this region, and I understand that these cuts could devastate small communities like Superior, Globe, Miami, Kearny, Hayden and Winkelman. When a small community loses jobs, the hardship hits families, school districts, small businesses – just about everyone.
“My staff and I are reaching out to civic and business leaders to assess this situation and determine next steps. I stand firmly with Arizona’s rural communities and small towns, which need good-paying jobs so families are empowered to stay there, live there and send their kids to good schools. My top priority is to bring jobs to our district so regions like the Copper Corridor can build a strong foundation for the future.”
Statement from Pete Rios, District 1 Supervisor, Pinal County Board of Supervisors
“This is a direct result of our US Congress failing to take action. For seven years now, Resolution Copper has been pursuing a land exchange to begin mining the largest known supply of copper ore in North America. Congress has failed America and failed the people of Arizona and now 400 families are going to suffer their own ‘fiscal cliff’ – a layoff.”
“These are high-paying, high tech jobs that would help this country deliver a valuable global commodity to the world. Corporations can’t be expected to continue to explore, build and plan if Congress won’t do its part to remove the one obstacle standing in the way of progress. That said, my constituents are deeply grateful for the passage of Congressman Gosar’s bill during the last session.”
On Nov. 30, 2012, officials at Resolution Copper notified their staff and contractors that the budget allocated for the Resolution Copper project has been reduced to $50 million dollars. Rio Tinto who is the primary investor in this project has called for the reduction. In 2012, Resolution Copper was allocated $200 million dollars.
The budget reduction will result in the loss of approximately 400 jobs, approximately 75 percent of Resolution Copper’s workforce including both Resolution employees and contractors.
The company expects to reduce their staff by at least 175 by the end of 2012. The plan of action for the budget reduction will include the suspension of the rehabilitation of the Number 9 shaft by the end of the year.
By the end of the first quarter of 2013, the number 10 shaft will be completed but further lateral development of the drifts will be put on hold and no further drilling will be done on the project.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for the State of Arizona is 8 percent while Pinal County remains at 8.3 percent and Gila County is at 8.9 percent.
“To justify further development, we need more certainty around legislative and regulatory activity affecting Resolution Copper,” said Andrew Taplin, Project Director for Resolution Copper. “Specifically, approval of the land exchange we’ve been seeking since 2005 constitutes the critical path forward. Without certainty around these matters, reallocation of limited capital dollars to other projects worldwide that promise the best returns and hold lower risk is needed. Meanwhile, the efforts at RCM will be directed toward working to obtain the certainty we need.”
He went on to note that every effort would be made to help workers maintain employment either by reassignment to new duties within Resolution Copper or at other Rio Tinto projects.
The land exchange is a critical issue for the mine. Since 2005, the company has sought through Congressional action to exchange 2,400 acres of Forest Service land, under which one of the largest undeveloped copper resources in the world rests, for more than 5,300 acres of high-quality conservation lands held by the company.
The land exchange consolidates the company’s land ownership where the proposed mine will be developed and operated, and where it will invest more than $6 billion. It gives the company ownership of land that will be disturbed as a result of mining activity.
Since 2005, there have been 11 versions of the land exchange bill introduced into Congress. The most recent bill H.R. 1904 introduced by Representative Paul Gosar (CD-1 passed the House of Representatives in 2011 and it has yet to be considered by the Senate.
Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl have been strong and long-standing supporters of the project and are working hard to get the Senate to consider the legislation this session before it adjourns in Dec.
The land exchange became a controversial issue when environmental groups and the San Carlos Native American Tribe began to express their opposition to the project. For several years, Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva set many roadblocks for the land exchange due to the opposition of the Native Americans and Environmentalists. Grijalva has yet to visit Superior or the Resolution Copper Project.
To date the company has invested nearly $1 billion in the development of the project. The project is one of the richest undeveloped copper deposits in the world.
“Once the land exchange and regulatory issues are resolved, which is now our primary focus, I’m confident funding to advance the project will be restored. We remain hopeful that these matters will be resolved and we can bring jobs to Arizona,” said Taplin.
The budget reduction will affect more than just the 400 employees who are currently employed at the project. In 2011, the company spent $10 million in the Copper Triangle (Superior, Globe, Miami, Kearny) on goods and services. Currently there are 60 employees and contractors that reside in Superior and 91 who reside in the Copper Triangle area.
The reduction will also affect local non-profits and education programs although specific decisions have yet been made. The company did announce that they would continue to honor their agreements with the Town of Superior.
Resolution Copper will also be forced to scale back their partnerships with agencies such as the Arizona Audubon and the Nature Conservancy.
Copper Area News will have more on this story as it develops.
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